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Blackburn woman quits school in gender row
A SCHOOL administrator has quit her job after a malicious e-mail campaign claiming she is a man.
The Al-Islah Muslim Girl’s School, Audley Range, Blackburn, sent a letter to parents saying they had ‘irrefutable medical evidence’ Shifa Patel ‘was a female’ despite ‘concerns raised by parents’ over her gender.
But it said the school had reluctantly accepted her resignation due to the strain of the allegations.
Ms Patel said she hoped that, having provided ‘medical evidence’, the rumours would stop immediately.
Police had been called to the school after a group of around 15 angry people turned up and demanded the sacking of Ms Patel.
Ms Patel wears a hijab and full Jhaba (full length robe). The emails circulated among parents contained private photographs of Ms Patel with short hair and wearing a shirt and trousers.
It is believed the campaign was started after someone copied the pictures from a page on social networking site Facebook.
Ms Patel said: “The people who have done this have hurt me so badly. I will remember them at the moment before I die and and I never forgive those who did this to me.”
In some of the pictures Ms Patel is pictured alongside acting headteacher Fatima Patel.
Ms Fatima said: “It is very disconcerting that this has all happened during children’s exam time.
“When some parents approached me I said to them I will take the Quran in my hand and swear to tell the truth.
“But they were more concerned with getting a GP’s certificate for Shifa.
“What does that say about some people?
“This incident has affected me and Shifa and it will take a lot to get her confidence back.
“We must add that some parents have come and supported us.”
The Governing body also backed Ms Patel, saying her ‘unquestionable work ethic and professionalism’ had never been in doubt.
Sergeant John Rigby, of the minorities team at Lancashire Constabulary, said: “Police were called to the school after reports that people were trying to damage school doors.
“When we arrived a group of 10 to 15 people were outside the school.
"I must point out neither the school nor the mosque was raided.
“This is an entirely internal school matter and police were simply there to calm the situation down.”